Juden Smith followed his own miss and rammed in a rebound with 37 seconds remaining to give Texas El Paso a 65-64 victory over Wyoming in the championship game of the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament and a berth in the NCAA tournament here Saturday.
Wyoming had taken a 64-63 lead with 2:34 left when 6-foot 4-inch forward Fennis Dembo, who scored a game-high 28 points, hit a 20-foot jumper.
Eric Leckner, who was named the Most Valuable Player in the tournament, had a chance to give Wyoming a three-point lead when he went to the line with 55 seconds remaining and Wyoming leading, 64-63. But Leckner, who wound up with 23 points, missed the front end of the one-and-one and UTEP pushed the ball down the floor for Smith's winning shot.
Wyoming made its way to the championship game via a 67-65 victory over Air Force on a shot at the buzzer by Les Bolden and a 56-54 victory over New Mexico on a shot at the buzzer by Tuck Boyd.